U.S. Supreme Court Halts Execution of Duane Buck

Buck's lawyers say "race" was a factor in the sentence.

Posted: 09/16/2011 11:00 AM EDT
Filed Under Crime

The U.S. Supreme court moved to spare the life of a Texas man sentenced to die Thursday night.

 

In a single paragraph statement, the Supreme Court said, "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is granted pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court."

 

Buck, 48, was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend and her friend in 1995. Buck’s lawyers argued that his sentence was unfair because of a question asked about race during his trial. Back in In 2000, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn said Buck's case needed to be reopened because of racially charged statements made during the sentencing phase.

 

Two appeals were presented to the high court, both related to a psychologist's testimony that Blacks were more likely to commit violence. One appeal was granted, the other denied, according to the AP.

 

Buck, who was reportedly in his cell praying before be told of his reprieve, cried out in relief to a Texas Department of Justice spokesperson and thanked God in response to the ruling.

 

The decision came two hours into a six-hour window when Buck was to be executed via lethal injection.

 

A similar request for a reprieve was made to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has authorized more executions that any other governor in U.S. history.

 

Perry, the GOP front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, was not in the state Thursday. Any decision on a reprieve from the governor's office would have fallen to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

(Photo: AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

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